Daniel Day-Lewis

Why Do People Love Daniel Day-Lewis?

Daniel Day-Lewis is considered one of the greatest actors of his generation and has received tremendous critical acclaim for his performances.

But what is it exactly about Day-Lewis that makes him so beloved by audiences and respected by his peers? Here is an in-depth look at the qualities and achievements that have made Daniel Day-Lewis such an iconic figure in cinema.

His Dedication to His Craft

One of the main reasons Daniel Day-Lewis is so revered is his sheer dedication to fully inhabiting his roles. He goes to extreme lengths to immerse himself in the characters he portrays on screen.

Famous Examples of His Dedication

  • My Left Foot (1989) – Day-Lewis spent 8 weeks in a wheelchair prior to filming to gain an understanding of life as someone with cerebral palsy like his character Christy Brown. He would also insist crew members carry him around set and feed him between takes.
  • Last of the Mohicans (1992) – He lived off the land and learned to track, hunt, and skin animals like his character Hawkeye. Day-Lewis also carried a rifle at all times during the 9 month shoot.
  • In The Name of the Father (1993) – He spent nights in a jail cell and went without sleep for long periods to connect with his wrongfully imprisoned character Gerry Conlon.
  • Gangs of New York (2002) – He trained as an apprentice butcher and caught pneumonia after refusing to wear a warm coat because it was not in keeping with the period film’s 1840s setting.

This extreme dedication results in incredibly authentic performances that transport audiences. Day-Lewis doesn’t just pretend to be the character, he truly inhabits them.

His Selectivity

Daniel Day-Lewis is also highly selective about taking on roles, often only doing one film every 2-5 years. Since his film career began in 1982, he has only appeared in 6 theatrically released films.

Low Volume, High Quality

This selectivity means that when Day-Lewis does take on a role, expectations are sky-high that it will be something extraordinary. He only chooses roles he is deeply passionate about, resulting in performances full of heart and humanity. Audiences know that a Day-Lewis film will contain his absolute best work.

His Range and Versatility

In addition to his dedication, Daniel Day-Lewis is also beloved for his remarkable range and versatility as an actor. He has convincingly portrayed everything from a disabled Irish artist to an epic American oilman without ever appearing as if he’s “acting.”

Some of His Most Memorable Transformations Include:

  • Christy Brown, a cerebral palsy sufferer with a talent for art in My Left Foot
  • Hawkeye, an 18th century warrior in Last of the Mohicans
  • Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, a violent yet charismatic gang leader in Gangs of New York
  • Daniel Plainview, a ruthless early 20th century oil prospector in There Will Be Blood
  • Abraham Lincoln, the iconic 16th president in Lincoln

Day-Lewis immerses himself so deeply into such a wide array of distinctive characters that he fully inhabits them. Audiences are amazed by his ability to completely transform for each new role.

He Has Remarkable Intensity

In every performance, Daniel Day-Lewis brings an incredible intensity to his roles that makes him utterly captivating to watch on screen.

Scenes That Showcase His Riveting Presence Include:

  • The courtroom speech near the end of In The Name of the Father where his convicted character professes his innocence
  • His first on-screen appearance as Plainview in There Will Be Blood depicting the daunting ambition and greed that fuels the character
  • The mesmerizing “I drink your milkshake” conclusion in There Will Be Blood where Plainview’s ruthless nature completely surfaces

Day-Lewis does not merely deliver lines. He brings a raw, fiery energy to his acting that holds audiences in rapt attention and leaves an unforgettable impression.

He Has Received Massive Critical Acclaim

Daniel Day-Lewis has received recognition from the highest levels of the film world for his performances. This acclaim from critics and major awards groups further cements his status as a uniquely talented actor.

  • He is the only male performer to ever win 3 Best Actor Academy Awards (for My Left FootThere Will Be Blood, and Lincoln)
  • 9 of his roles have earned him Academy Award nominations, a record he shares only with Laurence Olivier and Jack Nicholson
  • He has won 4 BAFTA Awards for Best Actor
  • He has received 6 Golden Globe nominations, winning 3 times
  • His performance in Gangs of New York earned him the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival

Day-Lewis’ prolific accolades and awards make clear the immense respect the entire film industry has for his abilities.

Acclaim from Fellow Actors

He is not just respected by critics either. Many of Day-Lewis’ fellow actors hold him in the highest regard as well:

  • Meryl Streep called him “the greatest actor that has ever lived”
  • Joaquin Phoenix said he has “always learned from him”
  • Natalie Portman called his performance in Phantom Thread “the best acting I’ve ever seen”

When such a wide array of industry professionals all view his work as representing the pinnacle of film acting, it demonstrates the uniquely beloved status Daniel Day-Lewis has earned.

His Commitment to Quality Work

Throughout his career, Daniel Day-Lewis has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to only doing work that meets his own high standards of quality.

He Values His Artistic Integrity

Despite being such a globally famous actor, Day-Lewis has resisted the lure of big paychecks if he does not believe in the artistic merit of a project. He’s turned down numerous lucrative offers over the years, instead choosing roles based on passion rather than money.

He Has Temporarily Retired to Recharge His Creativity

After every intensely demanding role he plays, Day-Lewis takes a hiatus of several years from acting in order to recharge. This willingness to step back and wait until he is truly inspired again allows him to put so much energy into each performance.

Audiences and critics alike admire this dedication to his craft above all else. Even when he eventually does retire permanently, Daniel Day-Lewis will remain beloved for always striving to deliver his absolute best work.


In closing, Daniel Day-Lewis has become one of the most iconic and respected actors ever through his intense commitment, chameleonic range, captivating presence, prolific acclaim, and dedication to quality in every role he takes on.

Audiences are amazed by his ability to fully transform himself into even the most radically different characters. His meticulous methods and fiery intensity bring a palpable humanity and emotion to every performance.

Rather than chasing fame or fortune, Day-Lewis’ career choices are driven purely by passion and artistic integrity. His selectivity results in performances full of depth and authenticity that stay with viewers long after the credits roll.

For these reasons and so many more, Daniel Day-Lewis has rightfully earned his reputation as one of the greatest actors of his generation whose work will be cherished for decades to come. Even in retirement, his incredible talents and uniquely dedicated approach to his craft will no doubt continue to inspire fellow actors and movie lovers alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was Daniel Day-Lewis’ first major film role?

Day-Lewis’ first major film role was playing a gay punk rocker named Johnny in the 1982 British film My Beautiful Laundrette. His performance earned him great acclaim and his first BAFTA nomination for Best Actor.

How did Daniel Day-Lewis get into character for his roles?

Day-Lewis was famous for the extreme methods he used to immerse himself into characters. These included spending weeks in a wheelchair for My Left Foot, apprenticing as a butcher for Gangs of New York, and building his own log cabin and learning outdoor survival skills for Last of the Mohicans.

How many Oscars has Daniel Day-Lewis won?

Day-Lewis has won the Academy Award for Best Actor 3 times, for My Left Foot (1990), There Will Be Blood (2008), and Lincoln (2013). This makes him the only male performer to have won 3 Best Actor Oscars.

Why did Daniel Day-Lewis take long breaks between films?

Day-Lewis took 3-5 year breaks between every film role in order to recharge creatively and wait until he found a project he was truly passionate about taking on. This allowed him to fully immerse himself in each intensive role he played.

What was Daniel Day-Lewis’ final film role before retiring?

Day-Lewis’ final role was Reynolds Woodcock, a fastidious 1950s dressmaker, in the 2017 drama film Phantom Thread. Like many of his roles, he prepared extensively by learning the real methods of 1950s couture dressmaking.

When did Daniel Day-Lewis announce his retirement from acting?

Day-Lewis announced his retirement in June 2017 shortly after finishing work on his final film Phantom Thread. He has not appeared in or discussed any film roles since, indicating he has indeed permanently retired from screen acting.

Has Daniel Day-Lewis done any non-film acting?

Early in his career, Day-Lewis honed his acting skills on the stage, appearing in productions of Dracula and Hamlet at the National Theatre in London. However, after finding success in film acting, he has focused entirely on movie roles and not acted on stage since the late 1980s.

What is Daniel Day-Lewis’ net worth?

Due to his selective career focused on passion projects rather than blockbusters, Day-Lewis’ net worth is estimated to be around $50 million. While very successful financially, he could have earned much more had he not been so selective about roles based on artistic merit rather than paychecks.

Where does Daniel Day-Lewis live now?

Day-Lewis holds both British and Irish citizenship. He primarily lives a very private life in a seaside town in County Wicklow, Ireland with his family. He is known to be very protective of his private life.

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